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Carl Jung: Individuation and individual existence are indispensable

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Letters Volume II

To Elined Kotschnig

Dear Mrs . Kotschnig, 30 June 1956

It is not quite easy to answer your question within the space of a

You know that we human beings are unable to explain anything that happens without or within ourselves otherwise than through the use of the intellectual means at our disposal.

We always have to use mental elements similar to the facts we believe we have observed.

Thus when we try to explain how God has created His world or how He behaves toward the world, the analogy we use is the way in which our creative spirit produces and behaves.

When we consider the data of paleontology with the view that a Conscious creator has perhaps spent more than a thousand million years, and has made, as it seems to us, no end of detours to produce consciousness, we inevitably come to the conclusion that-if we want to explain His doings at all-His behaviour is strikingly similar to a being with an at least very limited consciousness.

Although aware of the things that are and the next steps to take, He has apparently neither foresight of an ulterior goal nor any knowledge of a direct way to reach it.

Thus it would not be an absolute unconsciousness but a rather dim consciousness.

Such a consciousness would necessarily produce any amount of errors and impasses with the most cruel consequences, disease, mutilation, and horrible fights, i.e., just the thing that has happened and is still happening throughout all realms of life.

Moreover it is impossible for us to assume that a Creator producing a universe out of nothingness can be conscious of anything, because each act of cognition is based upon a discrimination for instance, I cannot be conscious of somebody else when I am identical with him.

If there is nothing outside of God everything is God and in such a state there is simply no possibility of self-cognition.

Nobody can help admitting that the thought of a God creating any amount of errors and impasses is as good as a catastrophe.

When the original Jewish conception of a purposeful and morally inclined God marked the end of the playful and rather purposeless existence of the polytheistic deities in the Mediterranean sphere, the result was a paradoxical conception of the supreme being, finding its expression in the idea of divine justice and injustice.

The clear recognition of the fatal unreliability of the deity led Jewish prophecy to look for a sort of mediator or advocate, representing the claims of humanity before God.

As you know, this figure is already announced in Ezekiel’s vision of the Man and Son of Man.

The idea was carried on by Daniel and then in the Apocryphal writings, Particularly in the figure of the female Demiurge, viz. Sophia, and in the male form of an administrator of justice, the Son of Man, in the Book of Enoch, written about 100 B.c. and very popular at the time of Christ.

It must have been so well-known, indeed, that Christ called himself”Son of Man” with the evident presupposition of everybody knowing what he was talking about.

Enoch is exactly what the Book of Job expects the advocate of man to be, over against the lawlessness and moral unreliability of Yahweh.

The recently discovered scrolls of the Dead Sea mention a sort of legendary mystical figure, viz. “the Teacher of Justice. ”

I think he is parallel to or identical with Enoch.

Christ obviously took up this idea, feeling that his task was to represent the role of the “Teacher of Justice” and thus of a Mediator; and he was up against an unpredictable and lawless God who would need a most drastic sacrifice to appease His wrath, viz. the slaughter of His own son.

Curiously enough, as on the one hand his self-sacrifice means admission of the Father’s amoral nature, he taught on the other hand a new image of God, namely that of a Loving Father in whom there is no darkness.

This enormous antinomy needs some explanation.

It needed the assertion that he was the Son of the Father, i.e., the incarnation of the Deity in man.

As a consequence the sacrifice was a self-destruction of the amoral God, incarnated in a mortal body.

Thus the sacrifice takes on the aspect of a highly moral deed, of a self-punishment, as it were.

Inasmuch as Christ is understood to be the second Person of the Trinity, the self-sacrifice is the evidence for God’s goodness.

At least so far as human beings are concerned.

We don’t know whether there are other inhabited worlds where the same divine evolution also has taken place.

It is thinkable that there are many inhabited worlds in different stages of development where God has not yet undergone the transformation through incarnation.

However that may be, for us earthly beings the incarnation has taken place and we have become participants in the divine nature and presumably heirs of the tendency towards goodness and at the same time subject to the inevitable self-punishment.

As Job was not a mere spectator of divine unconsciousness but fell a victim to this momentous manifestation, in the case of incarnation we also become involved in the consequences of this transformation.

Inasmuch as God proves His goodness through self-sacrifice He is incarnated, but in view of His infinity and the presumably different stages of cosmic development we don’t know of, how much of God-if this is not too human an argument-has been transformed?

In this case it can be expected that we are going to contact spheres of a not yet transformed God when our consciousness begins to extend into the sphere of the unconscious.

There is at all events a definite expectation of this kind expressed in the “Evangelium Aeternum” of the Revelations containing the message: Fear God!

Although the divine incarnation is a cosmic and absolute event, it only manifests empirically in those relatively few individuals capable of enough consciousness to make ethical decisions, i .e., to decide for the Good.

Therefore God can be called good only inasmuch as He is able to manifest His goodness in individuals.

His moral quality depends upon individuals.

That is why He incarnates.

Individuation and individual existence are indispensable for the transformation of God the Creator.

The knowledge of what is good is not given a priori; it needs discriminating consciousness.

That is already the problem in Genesis, where Adam and Eve have to be enlightened first in order to recognize the Good and discriminate it from Evil,

There is no such thing as the “Good” in general, because something that is definitely good can be as definitely evil in another case.

Individuals are different from each other, their values are different and their situations vary to such an extent that they cannot be judged by general values and principles.

For instance generosity is certainly a virtue, but it instantly becomes a vice when applied to an individual that misunderstands it.

In this case one needs conscious discrimination.

Your question concerning the relationship between the human being and an unconscious paradoxical God is indeed a major question,although we have th e most impressive paradigm of Old Testament piety that could deal with the divine antinomy.

The people of the Old Testament could address themselves to an unreliable God.

By very overt attempts at propitiation I mean in particular the repeated
assertion and invocation of God’s justice and this in the face of indisputable injustice.

They tried to avoid His wrath and to call forth His goodness.

It is quite obvious that the old Hebrew theologians were continuously tormented by the fear of Yahweh’s unpredictable acts of injustice.

For the Christian mentality, brought up in the conviction of an essentially good God, the situation is much more difficult.

One cannot love and fear at the same time any more.

Our consciousness has become too differentiated for such contradictions.

We are therefore forced to take the fact of incarnation far more seriously than Hitherto.

We ought to remember that the Fathers of the Church have insisted upon the fact that God has given Himself to man’s death on the Cross so that we may become gods.

The Deity has taken its abode in man with the obvious intention of realizing Its Good in man.

Thus we are the vessel or the children and the heirs of the Deity suffering in the body of the “slave.”

We are now in a position to understand the essential point of view of our brethren the Hindus.

They are aware of the fact that the personal Atman is identical with the universal Atman and have evolved ways and means to express the psychological consequences of such a belief.

In this respect we have to learn something from them.

It saves us from spiritual pride when we humbly recognize that God can manifest Himself in many different ways.

Christianity has envisaged the religious problem as a sequence of dramatic events, whereas the East holds a thoroughly static view, i.e., a cyclic view.

The thought of evolution is Christian and-as I think-in a way a better truth to express the dynamic aspect of the Deity, although the eternal immovability also forms an important aspect of the Deity (in Aristotle and in the old scholastic philosophy).

The religious spirit of the West is characterized by a change of God’s image in the course of ages.

Its history begins with the plurality of the Elohim, then it comes to the paradoxical Oneness and personality of Yahweh, then to the good Father of Christianity, followed by the second Person in the Trinity, Christ, i.e., God incarnated in man.

The allusion to the Holy Ghost is a third form appearing at the beginning of the second half of the Christian age (Gioacchino da Fiore), and finally we are confronted with the aspect revealed through the manifestations of the unconscious.

The significance of man is enhanced by the incarnation.

We have become participants of the divine life and we have to assume a new responsibility, viz. the continuation of the divine self-realization, which expresses itself in the task of our individuation.

Individuation does not only mean that man has become truly human as distinct from animal, but that he is to become partially divine as well.

This means practically that he becomes adult, responsible for his existence, knowing that he does not only depend on God but that God also depends on man.

Man’s relation to God probably has to undergo a certain important change:Instead of the propitiating praise to an unpredictable king or the child’s prayer to a loving father, the responsible living and fulfilling of the divine will in us will be our form of worship of and commerce with God.

His goodness means grace and light and His dark side the terrible temptation of power.

Man has already received so much knowledge that he can destroy his own planet.

Let us hope that God’s good spirit will guide him in his decisions, because it will depend upon man’s decision whether God’s creation will continue.

Nothing shows more drastically than this possibility how much of divine power has come within the reach of man.

If anything of the above should not be clear to you, I am quite ready for further explanation.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 312-316.